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Home > Politics

Our Brave Boys: Beating A Retreat

16 March 2007

Again, on the big issues it is necessary to quote Bill Hicks and for that we make no apology. Speaking about the first Gulf War in 1992, Hicks said, 'I was in the unenviable position of being for the war, but against the troops'.

Yes, Iraq needed to be freed from Saddam. It's just that expecting Tony and George to make a decent fist of it was like asking Jonathan King to run a youth outreach programme. They're all the wrong men for the job.

Baha Mousa was a 26 year-old hotel worker arrested by British soldiers in Basra and taken into custody in September 2003. Two days later he was dead. His post mortem showed he had *93* separate injuries.

After identifying his son's body, Mousa's father said, 'His nose was broken. There was blood above his mouth and I could see the bruising of his ribs and thighs. The skin was ripped off his wrists where the handcuffs had been.'

Corporal Donald Payne has admitted to inhumanely treating Iraqi civilians. The other soldiers charged have had those charges dropped due to lack of evidence. When acquitting two more soldiers this week, Mr Justice McKinnon said...

'None of those soldiers has been charged with any offence simply because there is no evidence against them as a result of a more or less obvious closing of ranks.'

Now, many critics of the war in Iraq have been accused, grandly, of being 'moral relativists'. That is we supposedly refute a concept of universal rights that should be applied to everybody the world over. Those who were for the war ask why the Iraqis should have been denied the freedoms we enjoy.

So, in the spirit of this universalism, here's an idea. Why not get a bunch of thick-set lads from the new Iraqi army - you know, the one we've worked so hard to impart our 'values' to - and get them to have a word with those 'closed ranks' to try and get to the bottom of how Baha Mousa died.

Maybe our 'brave' boys could be hooded, deprived of sleep and water, and made to stand in 'stress positions'. Maybe the odd punch to the kidneys or knee to the bollocks could be administered. Obviously, the odd innocent squaddie might take a hiding but it's not torture, after all. No - and how's this for moral relativism - when *our* soldiers do it, it's called 'conditioning' and is approved by Army officers. As with your hair, it's all about making things more manageable.

Colonel David Black of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, whose soldiers were accused, said the investigation into Mousa's death had been 'an "extraordinary ordeal" for the soldiers, their families and the regiment as a whole'.

'An extraordinary ordeal'. Imagine that.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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